Health Information Technology: Electronic Medical Records and Beyond
Co-Sponsor: German American Chamber of Commerce (GACC)
Specialists from health service delivery, mobile health applications, pharma, and health care policy discussed EMR opportunities and challenges and health IT.
Health care law and policy expert Bruce Merlin Fried moderated the panel discussion on how ICT/IT-based medical care has the potential to transform health care services. Dirk Feldman, Director Strategy at Siemens Health Services, presented Siemens’ responses to the challenge of accountable health care innovations and thus focused on hospital providers. Bernt C. Klein, Senior Vice President Americas at Detecon Inc. of the Deutsche Telekom Group, and Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Renz, Corporate Vice President for Business Model & Healthcare Innovation at Boehringer Ingelheim, both addressed the consumers’ perspective on electronic medical care by drawing on the revolutionizing force of mobile health apps as well as the relationship between medication adherence and electronic health record algorithms. The scope of issues represented the complexity of the field: As health care systems in the U.S. and Germany are characterized by decentralization and provider/consumer heterogeneity, the electronic medical market is highly fragmented. In order to address this disintegration, IT standardization and ICT regulation processes must be enhanced to secure consistent information data bases. Especially with regard to clinical decision-making processes and the decision-making support for patients, technological solutions have to be reliable in order to provide the information that is required. Big medical and pharma companies also need to engage in open collaboration to push efficient development processes and to create required integrated business models.
EMRs, in particular, allow health care providers to collect, retrieve, and exchange information electronically. While some foresee EMR implementations as a chance to enhance the overall quality of the population’s health, better medical care in major emergencies, and to predict and stop epidemics, others regard the storage of confidential medical data as problematic. Data security and privacy policies remain major issues, since anonymity is one of the health sector’s highest priorities. In addition to data protection, the discussion focused on cost reduction, as expenses of the health care system have constantly increased within the last 10 years. In 2020, the expenditures for medical services in the U.S. are expected to rise to $4.6 trillion from 2.6 trillion in 2010. The panelists agreed that electronic medical services are one of the most important future business markets with promising investment predictions. The “perfect storm,” as Dirk Feldman called current health information technology developments, is threefold: Demographic developments, the cost-pressure as well as further increase in disposability of and innovations in (mobile) ICT devices push a growing demand and willingness to invest.